Could Department of Livable Streets fix SF parking and traffic?

By Matier & Ross  : sfchronicle – excerpt

With the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency’s parking and traffic management becoming a bigger political issue, plans are being revved up for a City Charter amendment that would hand those jobs to a new Department of Livable Streets.

The MTA board would still hear all parking and traffic matters, but the Board of Supervisors would have the final say over parking rules, stop signs and the like.

“The buck stops with the Board of Supervisors,” said Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, one of the initiative’s sponsors. “I don’t want to be held accountable for something I have absolutely no control over.”..

Safaí cited his frustration over the MTA’s decision to reject a two-year effort by his Excelsior constituents to get a four-way stop sign at the corner of Avalon Avenue and Edinburgh Street — where a pedestrian was later killed.

Supervisor Aaron Peskin, who is co-sponsoring the ballot move, said the final straw for him was hearing that Mayor Ed Lee, with support from the MTA, was negotiating with ride-hailing giants to turn parking spaces into designated pickup stops for Uber and Lyft.

Safaí and Peskin need four more supervisors to sign onto the Charter amendment to get it on the June 5 ballot. They’re confident they’ll get there…(more)

Now we know more details about the proposed SFMTA Charter Amendment and what pushed the supervisors over the edge – lack of response from SFMTA to a citizens’ request, and the privatization of public streets. We have all experienced these problems and been helpless to solve them. The elected Board of Supervisors should be able to get a bit more done to clean up this mess.
If you agree with the plan to put the Charter Amendment on the ballot, let the supervisors and everyone else know. Contacts

RELATED:
Advocates Align to Fight Proposal to Split Muni/SFMTA
The San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association (SPUR), the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, Walk San Francisco, and the San Francisco Transit Riders have come out hard against a proposal to split Muni, operator of San Francisco’s buses and trains, from the rest of the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which also oversees street design, stoplights, signs, and taxi and parking regulations.
The Board of Supervisors will decide whether to put the amendment on the June, 2018, ballot tomorrow/Tuesday, 2 p.m., at its regularly scheduled meeting.

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Why split the SFMTA?

I believe the Supervisors did not appreciate the type of open-ended contract they discovered when they investigated the Van Ness BRT project. I’m not going to describe it here. You can watch the many hearings that have been conducted on the contracts and delays. I’m not going into the financial shenanigans.

Other investigations into major mistakes made on projects such as the ones on Potrero next to the General Hospital lead to questions about communication within the department and SFMTAs dealings with other city agencies. At a public neighborhood meeting we discovered that the Project Manager for Potrero Ave. is also Project Manager for at least one other large project. This leads us to believe that they have bitten off too much to do well and need to put all new project starts on hold while they finish the ones the ones they have going now.

Disputes with the Fire Department and other city agencies involved in emergency operations along with daily transit meltdowns concern people who are responsible for handling a major disaster. How will a gridlocked city handle the next earthquake or other disaster that cuts off power when so much of our lives are electronica now. There is no evacuation plan. The plan is to shelter in place. That doesn’t work under all circumstances.

While you are at it, pay attention to public comments, especially where the bus stop removals and other inconveniences are opposed. Spitting SFMTA (not Muni) has less to do with cars and more to do with providing the service the Muni riders want instead of ignoring them. A business that ignores its customers will not survive long. In this case, the sales tax increase failed because no amount of lies and excuses will convince people they should pay more for less, especially when the salaries are not keeping pace with the tax increases.

The voters much approve the split and restructuring of the SFMTA by ballot.

RELATED:
Supervisors want to split municipal transit agency in two — here’s why

MUNI to split into transit and traffic, again!

By Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez : sfexaminer – excerpt

Two San Francisco supervisors want to divide Muni’s parent agency into two departments. Concerned with The City’s allegedly mismanaged transit policies, supervisors Aaron Peskin and Ahsha Safai have told stakeholders.

Under the proposal, one agency would handle just Muni, and the other would handle San Francisco’s parking and streets, sources with knowledge of the measure told the San Francisco Examiner…

The proposal would also allow supervisors to make appointments to the SFMTA’s seven-member Board of Directors. Right now, directors are only appointed by the mayor.

Peskin and Safai have approached stakeholders with the ballot measure over the last week, and discussed introducing it as an amendment to The City’s charter at next Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting, according to sources with knowledge of the measure…

I think [Peskin is] having buyer’s remorse about his role in Prop. A,” said Tom Radulovich, executive director of the nonprofit Livable City.

The DPT of old was ideologically committed to moving cars through The City, and transit, walking and cycling always got short changed,” Radulovich said.

But while the SFMTA has tried to focus more on transit and the creation of bike lanes over vehicle traffic, Radulovich feels those efforts are lackluster. He said another major reason the SFMTA was created was to free it from political influence; supervisors would sometimes stop transportation changes that would benefit thousands for the sake of one angry constituent.

But the politicians still throw monkey wrenches into modern-day SFMTA operations, Radulovich said.

The reforms just allow that to happen “behind the scenes,” Radulovich said...(more)

The City is reeling from the disruptions on our streets. We need to shed light into the dark corners of the SFMTA and dissect the billion dollar budget that they have controlled while creating a traffic nightmare. Radulovich is right about the backroom dealings. The fact that the SFMTA Board members have no private emails to communicate directly with the public they are supposed to serve should alarm voters. Who are the gatekeepers who determine what the Board sees and when they see it? Who benefits from the removal of bus seats and stops when the Muni riders overwhelmingly oppose them?

Perfect timing! A change in priorities and policies is needed now. Peskin and Safai are coming through with a brilliant move at the right time. An initiative aimed at changing the power structure of SFMTA would force the candidates for supervisor to take a position showing their true colors, making it easier for voters to determine who to support in those important races.

Top Down Government is losing public support. If the voters approve the move to alter the power structure of SFMTA, making it more accountable to the public, they will send a warning to other government entities that there is a popular revolt against government overreach.

L-Taraval: SFMTA Seeks To Remove Parking, Add Boarding Islands

by Fiona Lee : hoodline – excerpt

With the recent release of the final results of a six-month boarding zone pilot, SFMTA hopes to add boarding islands and remove multiple stops to make the L-Taraval corridor safer for pedestrians and passengers.

The boarding zone pilot took place over a six month period at inbound stops at 26th, 30th, 32nd, 35th and 40th avenues and included improved signage, flashing lights and painted lane markings to alert drivers…(more)

As you can imagine the removal of these stops is not popular with Muni riders on the L-Taraval. They will show up and are asking for support from other Muni riders and people who oppose bus stop removal at the SFMAT Board Meeting on December 5th. Please see this letter from Paula of Save Our L Taraval Stops!

It all comes down to longer walks to the Muni or longer rides on the bus. Who gets to decide? The riding public or the SFMTA? Next time you get to vote on SFMTA’s continued control over Muni, remember they took away your Muni seats and stops and that is why you are walking longer and standing on the bus.

Get more details on how your can help:
https://savesfmuni.wordpress.com/2017/11/30/l-taraval-sfmta-seeks-to-remove-parking-add-boarding-islands/

SF set to become first US city to price all metered parking based on demand

By Michael Cabanatuan : sfgate – excerpt

Surge pricing could be coming to every parking meter in San Francisco in 2018 under a plan being considered by the Municipal Transportation Agency.

Under the proposal, each of the city’s 30,200 meters would be subject to hourly rates that vary depending on demand. The charges would fluctuate block by block and by time of day. For example, a neighborhood with a lot of restaurants might see higher meter rates during evenings than during other times of the day.

MTA officials say the approach is intended to increase the availability of coveted city parking spaces, particularly in areas where demand is high. People unwilling to pay the higher rates might seek parking farther away, remain for a shorter period of time, or leave their car at home… (more)

Next time you get the chance to vote for a change at the SFMTA regardless of how lame it sounds vote for that change. Especially if SFMTA and the Mayor oppose the initiative. Otherwise you will get more of the same lousy transit system and traffic and parking controls. And don’t support any more sales tax or other increase in their funds until they return the streets and bus stops that they are stealing from us.

Muni riders losing bus stops: There is a plan to remove more bus stops on the L Taraval line that will be discussed at the next SFMTA Board Meeting. Why have the buses stop? Let’s just let them roll by and wave at them. The SFMTA doesn’t work for people. They work for contractors and that translates into a lot of construction and road repair instead of customer service.  SFMTA never saw a capital improvement grant they didn’t like. I guess it’s more fun to work with contractors than to transport riders.

Killing businesses one ticket at a time:  How the small businesses will survive with this attitude toward the public and the difficulty delivery vehicles are having parking to unload is anybody’s guess. I”m sure we’ll hear from the merchants soon. Tell the Board of Supervisors know how you feel about these ideas and how you plan to deal with higher parking prices if they are approved. Demand an opportunity to vote for a Charter Amendment that reduces SFMTA’s authority.

RELATED:
SF PARKING: City considers transforming parking spots into Uber and Lyft loading zones :

Did anyone ask to have parking spaces to by transformed into loading zones? That is what you get when you trust a city agency such as SFMTA to manage public property. They remove your right to use the public space they manage. Is this what you had in mind when you supported public transit and allowed the SFMTA to manage the streets? Did you envision the loss of the streets for your use?

You can vote here on your preference for where you want to see loading zones. “No where, forget the whole idea” is the most popular option: https://sf.curbed.com/2017/11/28/16711142/uber-lyft-loading-zones-geofencing

 

Regulate Chariot, charge fair-market value for use of government property

Op-ed by Susan Vaughan : sfexaminer – excerpt

Photos by zrants

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is an vital organization in The City’s efforts to combat climate change and income inequality. In its 2016 Annual Report, the SFMTA announced a 10 percent increase in service, daily ridership of 725,000 and one-year reductions of nearly 45 percent in carbon emissions…

In recent years, private, for-profit carriers that The City doesn’t regulate or regulates loosely, and that exclude many categories of riders, have proliferated on local streets: the technology shuttle buses, aka “Google” buses; transportation network companies (TNCs), such as Uber and Lyft, regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission; and now private transportation vehicles (PTVs)…

This is legal. In fact, in 2012 and 2013, local cab drivers sued the SFMTA over the cost of medallions (permits to operate taxis) arguing that the medallion fee — $250,000 — was an illegal tax. A legal brief, signed by City Attorney Dennis Herrera and Deputy City Attorney Wade Snodgrass, made the winning argument that the medallion “grants its holder the ‘special privilege’ of ‘us[ing] … public streets for private enterprise.” Elsewhere, they wrote: “California law … [authorizes] local government entities to allow the private use of public property, and to sell or lease public property, at market rates … in order to protect the public fisc.” In fact, in 2010 town hall meetings, the proposed medallion fee was identified as a source of revenue to support the SFMTA. But those medallion fees have dropped into negative numbers because of the competition from TNCs… (more)

The Board of Directors must include fair-market charges for every PTV — and shuttle bus — for “[t]he right to use streets as a place of business for private gain.”

Susan Vaughan is a local transportation advocate... (more)

How is Chariot different from Tech buses and hospital shuttles? Why are we dealing with so many different attitudes toward the same thing? Should not all these “private” transportation systems that transport the public be “regulated” is equals? The SFMTA should not be in the business of regulating private vehicles. They should stick to doing the one thing they can barely do. They should fill the holes in the road they dug up and they should manage the Muni. If the Muni were properly managed it would BE the choice of most people.

What does the director of the agency do with this time? He sits on many boards and does a lot of back slapping and self-congratulatory speeches, claiming he runs the best transit system in the world, while San Francisco traffic and businesses are being run into the ground by a construction nightmare of his own making.

City Hall is anticipating offering small sums of cash grants and low-interest loans to prop up the failing businesses long enough to get through the various hopelessly behind schedule construction projects, many neighborhoods opposed to begin with. Maybe we need to let the director go and work on his private projects and hire a new focused one who can get the jobs done effectively, ONE AT A TIME instead of 29 at a time.

If all the street construction projects went away tomorrow no one would care about the Chariots, tech buses, Muni, delivery trucks or taxis. The street constructions are creating the headaches for everyone and sucking up the Muni money. Kill the projects and you can have a free Muni.

 

Two-mile-long Van Ness bus lane project faces two-year delay

By : sfexaminer – excerpt

The two-mile-long Van Ness Bus Rapid Transit project is facing an almost six-month construction delay.

“The project has been delayed due to an increase of wet weather since the project started,” said Paul Rose, a San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency spokesperson, “as well as contractual challenges in getting a utility contractor on board.”

Left turns along Van Ness Avenue between Mission and Lombard streets were eliminated when construction began in 2016 to create bus lanes which are intended to speed up buses for thousands of Muni riders… (more)

As some of us have noted, there is a shortage of competent experienced contractors and construction workers due to the unreasonable number of government projects. There are no more construction workers to do any more work.

It doens’t take a brain surgeon to figure out that the “new economy” education system is producing too many hackers and computer geniuses and not enough talented plumbers and electricians to meet the demand for the fast-paced development City Hall expects.

Unlike software contractors, who can fake results an blame the hardware, it is hard to fake an electrical or plumbing system. If the city wants to be in the construction business they need to train more construction workers to work in the real world instead of the virtual ones.

Hopefully City Hall will figure out soon that there is no point in digging any more holes until they fill the big ones causing all the damage to our city. Do us all a favor. and “FINISH WHAT YOU STARTED BEFORE DIGGING UP ANY MORE STREETS.”

National Association of City Transportation Officials

NATO – excerpt

Mission: NACTO’s mission is to build cities as places for people, with safe, sustainable, accessible and equitable transportation choices that support a strong economy and vibrant quality of life… (more)

NACTO’s core principles and priorities for city transportation in state and federal legislation and regulation are:

  1. Promote safe transportation systems
  2. Support sustainable funding and financing for transportation projects
  3. Bring project decisions closer to the taxpayer, at the local level
  4. Reduce the impact of transportation on climate change
  5. Increase equitable transportation access for all people and all modes
  6. Prepare for automated vehicle technology… (more)

One of the many Organizations that SFMTA and our city officials are involved with, where policies are made on a national/international stage.

Transportation Madness

By Commentary Paul Kozakiewicz : richmondreview – excerpt

Lately, I have been wondering why the city’s transportation agency has been running roughshod over merchants and local residents across town, and acting in total disregard for the wishes of most San Francisco residents.

Whether it’s the Geary Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), or the L Taraval streetcar line, the public and local merchants are ignored as being minor disruptions to the agency’s self-proclaimed higher ideals.

The SF Municipal Transportation Agency (SFMTA) has created a scorched-earth policy, destroying or hurting businesses on Third, Mission, Taraval and Irving streets and Van Ness Avenue. It refuses to conduct economic impact studies before closing and tearing up streets just to shave a minute or two off bus and streetcar times. It ignores the pleas of seniors, people trying to raise a family, and anyone else who stands in its way.

And it is beyond the reach of voters and elected officials…

The SFMTA was granted special SF Charter status, and divorced from oversight by elected public officials, in 1999. I bet most of the people reading this column have no idea who is running one of the largest departments in the City, with almost 5,000 employees and an annual budget of $1 billion.

The story of how we got to where we are today is ugly.

Mayor, supervisors abdicate transportation responsibilities…

Who is running the SFMTA?

Prop. E is seven pages long, with mostly additions and a lot of deletions of the old laws. It is specific, however, on who should run this massive super-agency…

Currently, it appears as if none of the seven members of the board of directors, or the operations director, have much experience in transportation. They are mostly political insiders whose experience is working within government in some limited capacity…

I think running a large transportation conglomerate is above Reiskin’s pay grade. And, the board of directors running this important show are political appointees, mostly with expertise in subjects other than transportation. It boggles the mind.

The directors of the SFMTA are Cheryl Brinkman (chair), Malcolm Heinicke, Gwyneth Bordon, Lee Hsu, Joel Ramos, Christina Rubke and Art Torres. Their biographies are available at the SFMTA’s website at http://www.sfmta.org

And the city’s taxi industry has not fared well under the SFMTA’s oversight…

The aftermath

Here we are, 17 years after the passage of Prop. E, and the SFMTA is a monster of its own creation. The development of the Geary BRT would be funny, except for it being real. I’ve documented the Geary BRT story exhaustively since late 2006, when I spent my Christmas vacation trying to figure out why the SFMTA was coming into the neighborhood talking about a “voter mandate” to build a Geary BRT, which was never wanted by most of the people who work and live in the district…

• Representatives of the SFMTA refused the request of local merchants to include an economic impact statement in the Geary BRT’s environmental report;…

The second phase would tear up Geary, hurt local businesses, remove left-hand turns, remove parking spaces and increase traffic on all other Richmond streets.

Non-profit challenges SFMTA

The SFMTA is not a good public institution to deal with. That’s why a group of concerned west side residents and merchants joined together to create the nonprofit organization SF Sensible Transit…

Members of the organization tried for months to negotiate with representatives of the SFMTA, but to no avail. Finally, in desperation, they filed a lawsuit to stop implementation of “phase 2” of the Geary BRT…

Please join Sensible Transit or make a donation in care of: San Franciscans for Sensible Transit, P.O. Box 210119, SF, CA 94121. Or, go to the website at www.sfsensibletransit.org.

It’s for all the right reasons.

Thank you.

Paul Kozakiewicz is the publisher of the Richmond Review and Sunset Beacon

 

Ford GoBike (Bay Area Bikeshare) Update

Potrero Boosters August Meeting agenda includes this issue:

In Boston, it’s Hubway, sponsored by New Balance; in Portland, the Nike Biketown. Chicago has the Blue Cross/Blue Shield Divvy, and New York has the CitiBike. And now the Potrero has Ford GoBike, an expansion of the newly rebranded Bay Area Bike Share. Bike pods have appeared at 16th and San Bruno, in front of Whole Foods, at the Arkansas and 17th corner of Jackson Park, at Mississippi and 17th, and at the 19th and Minnesota corner of Esprit. They’ll soon be at the 22nd Street Caltrain Station.


The recent expansion has not been without controversy. Further expansion plans promise additional pods in the southern parts of Potrero Hill and Dogpatch, extending into Bayview.

Justin Nguyen, the Outreach/Marketing Coordinator of Motivate, the company operating the Ford GoBike (and the other cities’ bikeshares mentioned above), will respond to our questions and comments regarding the program.

If you want to go find out more about Motivate and the Ford GoBikes, here is your chance. If I were going I would ask these questions:

What does this mean? “the newly rebranded Bay Area Bike Share” We assume the new brand is Motivate, which we recently learned from a program on KQED radio program, is the private/public entity that was created between MTC (the regional pubic funding entity that distributes government taxes and grants) and, what appears to be, a private corporate entity or entities.

Three questions arise from this information:

  1. Re-branding: What was the original brand before the re-branding?
  2. Expansion: Expansion of what? Who or what was in the original organization and who or what is in this iteration? Which government agencies or departments are involved and which private or corporate entities are involved in this deal?
  3. What is the government’s role and goal in these partnership agreements?

As a voting taxpayer, one must determine where or not this is a proper task for a regional transportation funding organization and how this effects our eagerness to pay higher taxes knowing how they are being used.

How did all of these contracts get signed by our government officials without our notice or discussion or consent? Do we want a government that excludes public from the discussion until after the contracts are signed? Are these legitimate contracts when the pubic is kept in the dark until they are signed?